Theater: Plan-B Family Fare

By Jerry Rapier

Okay, so there's mention of suicide and patricide and there's an anti-Semitic flower girl. And a dead baby. But "Gutenberg! The Musical!" is funny in a childlike way. If your kid can take a bit of tongue-in-cheek, don't leave him at home when you go.
by Jerry Rapier
I was snowed in for an extra week while in New York last February and was doing what I do while I'm in the city-overdosing on theatre. I went to see a ridiculous, ridiculous show off-Broadway called "Gutenberg!! The Musical!" At intermission I realized I had laughed nonstop through the first act. That had never happened to me before-a true light-bulb moment. So I started making phone calls during intermission, without even seeing the second act, to see about bringing the show to Plan-B.

"Gutenberg!! The Musical!" is groundbreaking for us, but not in the way you might think if you're not familiar with what we do. Since March, we've staged three plays about issues surrounding premature death ("The Alienation Effekt," "Facing East," "Exposed"). Quite honestly, we needed a bit of a laugh, and we figured our audience did as well.

We've been describing it as "Spinal Tap" meets "Saturday Night Live" meets "Waiting For Guffman," but it seems that this show is family fare! We're recommending children 12 and up…but two four-year-olds have enjoyed it so far. My godson Gavin was particularly keen on "the part where the rats sing." My assistant Daisy's nephew Kinny, who is British, liked it but was very concerned about "the part where they chuck the kitty."

"Gutenberg!! The Musical!" is a two-person musical about Bud and Doug, who think they're written an epic about Johann Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press. What they've actually created is a craptacular musical. Comic masters Jay Perry and Kirt Bateman bring Bud and Doug to life at breakneck speed. Their earnest portrayal of this misguided duo lets the audience care about them and their dream of having a Broadway director take their show directly to Broadway!

It's been a little surreal fielding phone calls asking if the show is appropriate for kids. It's not a question we usually get at Plan-B. This is what I've been telling people:

•    There is one F word.

•    There is one gay joke.

•    There are many boob jokes.

I got one call from a mother asking me if it was appropriate for her 12-year-old son. I gave her the list above. She laughed.

"I say the F word more than I should. And my son is gay, so the boob jokes won't really be an issue."

Jerry Rapier is executive director of Plan-B Theatre and directed this play.


Through December 30

Thurs-Sat at 8pm; Sun at 2pm

Plan-B Theatre in the Studio Theatre

at the Rose Wagner

355-ARTS or

Tickets $18 ($10 for children/


90 minutes including intermission

This article was originally published on December 3, 2007.